Crime: Verdict expected in Cum-Ex trial against banker Olearius

Crime: Verdict expected in Cum-Ex trial against banker Olearius
Crime: Verdict expected in Cum-Ex trial against banker Olearius

Hamburg banker Christian Olearius is one of the best-known Cum-Ex figures. Nine months ago he took his place in the dock for the first time, and Monday will probably be the last time.

A verdict is expected this afternoon in the Cum-Ex criminal proceedings against the former head of the Hamburg private bank MM Warburg, Christian Olearius. The Bonn Regional Court is likely to announce the discontinuation of the proceedings, considering the 82-year-old’s poor health as a permanent inability to stand trial and an obstacle to the proceedings.

Both the public prosecutor and the defense had requested that the case be discontinued, and the court had obtained a medical report. The so-called discontinuance judgment will probably leave the question of guilt unanswered, and the acquittal hoped for by the defense is unlikely to happen either. The current shareholder of the private bank MM Warburg has protested his innocence in court, and today he wants to speak again – but this will in all probability have no influence on the outcome of the case.

Proceeds of crime of 43 million euros

For now, he has been spared having to pay the state 43 million euros as proceeds from the crime. The public prosecutor’s office had applied for a so-called confiscation procedure to be initiated, thereby separating it from the criminal proceedings. The court rejected this last week, however, pointing out that the prosecutors had not yet completed their investigations into this matter. The public prosecutor’s office could do this later and then initiate separate confiscation proceedings. This would be about the money and not the question of guilt. Olearius would no longer have to appear in court.

The prosecution had accused Olearius of 15 cases of particularly serious tax evasion, which allegedly resulted in tax losses of almost 280 million euros. The crimes are said to have taken place essentially between 2006 and 2011. That was the peak of the Cum-Ex business model, in which financial actors received tax refunds that had not even been paid. This resulted in double-digit billions in losses for the state. There have already been eight guilty verdicts on Cum-Ex at the Bonn Regional Court since 2020, and a large number of proceedings are likely to follow in the coming years.

Connection to Scholz

Olearius is one of the best-known Cum-Ex actors. His actions also caused a stir in politics. His diary entries revealed that he had met with the future Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) three times in 2016 and 2017, when he was still First Mayor of Hamburg.

The exact content of the meetings is unclear. However, it is a fact that the tax authorities subsequently dropped a tax demand and the claims subsequently became time-barred under the legal situation at the time. It has not been proven that there was a causal connection between the Scholz-Olearius meetings and the authorities’ decision. Scholz rules out political influence, but when asked about the exact content of the discussions, he cites gaps in his memory.

Demand from civil society

With regard to the dismissal judgment expected today in the case against Olearius, the former Green Party member of the Bundestag and current chairman of the citizens’ movement Finanzwende, Gerhard Schick, said that it would not be a scandal if the case ended with a dismissal judgment. “There are constitutional rules for such cases that apply to everyone, including Olearius – and that is right.”

The real scandal is that the criminal proceedings almost did not take place because Olearius had maintained good relations with the government and the judiciary in Hamburg. “If the public prosecutor’s office in Cologne had not been persistent, Olearius might never have been charged.”

Schick appealed to the government and investigative authorities in Hamburg and elsewhere to take full action against Cum-Ex offenses. “The same constitutional state that is now protecting Olearius from proceedings that he is no longer able to cope with should have resolutely prosecuted him earlier.”

Source: Stern

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